Kwara State, in North Central Nigeria is one of the first generation
states created in 1967. The state is one of the poorest and least
developed states in Nigeria, when compared to other states created in
the same period.
Historically, Kwara used to be a vibrant state with so many striving
industries and a growing economy, but due to the emergence of a new
political leader in the second republic, things changed and the
fortune of the state of harmony never remained the same again.
About 4 decades ago, a medical doctor turned politician took over the
political leadership of Kwara State; His name is Dr Olusola Saraki.
Olusola Saraki who is popularly referred to as the strong man of Kwara
established a political dynasty that not only controls the political
system of the state, but also influences the traditional, religious
and social institutions for almost 40 years, precisely between 1979 to
The dynasty, which is currently controlled by Bukola Saraki was
crushed and uprooted out of Kwara State in the 2019 general election
by the All Progressive Congress (APC), led by its Governorship
candidate, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq.
How Saraki got power
During Nigeria’s civil war between 1967-1970, Dr Olusola Saraki, a
medical doctor turned politician, who had earlier lost election in
1966 in an area now known as ASA local government served as a major
supplier of medical services to the military government. His close
contact with high ranking members of the then military authorities
gave him unhindered access to power at the highest level.
Dr. Saraki was one of the few individuals who made huge fortune from
Nigeria’s civil war and with the aid of his acquired wealth during the
tragic warfare that reportedly claimed over 3 million lives; Saraki
tactically positioned himself to take over the political space in
Kwara State through politically motivated charity, which worked
greatly in his favor.
When the military government prepared the transition process of
handling power over to democratically elected government in 1979, Dr.
Saraki became one of the delegates at the constitutional conference in
1977 and he eventually emerged senator in 1979 and has been
influencing the choices of who become what in Kwara state ever since.
Upon Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999, Dr. Saraki continued to
hold unto the political control of the state. In 1999, Saraki
installed late admiral Muhammed Alabi Lawal as governor of Kwara
State, before his biological son, Dr Bukola Saraki took over in 2003.
In 2011, Olusola Saraki surrendered Kwara political leadership to his
son Bukola Saraki and like his father; Bukola has been installing all
political office holders in the state. Bukola Saraki is currently a
senator, representing Kwara central senatorial district and also the
senate president of the federal republic of Nigeria.
How Kwara was liberated from Saraki Dynasty
After the terrible defeat of Kwara opposition in 2015 under the
leadership of Chief Iyiola Akogun, young people in Kwara State were
outraged about the total lack of inspiration from the leadership of
the liberation struggle. They resolved that going forward; they will
take their destiny in their own hands.
Sooner after, a pro-democracy group known as Kwara Must Change came to
lime light with its unique brand of citizen’s advocacy and political
mobilization. Kwara Must Change (KMC) is a civil and political
advocacy group founded by a group of young people who are frustrated
by the lack of social justice and good governance in Kwara State and
are determined to change the status quo.
After the 2015 election in which the liberation struggle suffered a
major setback despite being in the ruling government at the national
level, most people were sober and demoralized, fearing that the hope
of liberating Kwara from the shackles of Saraki dynasty might have
However, Kwara Must Change surfaced out of the blues to change the
atmosphere when it released a publication titled ‘’Kwarans have
defeated mentality’’. The reflective publication by Abdulrazaq Hamzat,
the convener of of Kwara Must Change was released on May 25 2015, few
days before the inauguration of the new administration and that
singular action marked the birth of a new era in Kwara political
In the publication which serves as a wakeup call for many Kwarans,
Hamzat explained that the defeat of the liberation struggle in 2015
was as a result of a defeated mentality and has nothing to do with the
capacity of the Saraki dynasty. He therefore called for immediate
reawakening to free the people’s mind long before any future
To match action with words, leaders of Kwara Must Change which include
Abdulrazaq Hamzat, Yusuf Olatunji, Hassan Adio, Ibrahim Olanrewaju and
many others led the reformation of Kwara Must Change and positioned
the group to lead a long term struggle for freedom through massive
public mobilization and political mobilization.
The group’s public sensitization campaign led by the President,
Abdulrazaq Hamzat gained wide followership both on conventional and
social media, while its grassroots political mobilization led by the
state coordinator, Yusuf Olatunji, 3 senatorial coordinators and 16
local government area coordinators penetrated across the length and
breadth of the state. Kwara Must Change suddenly becomes synonymous
with Kwara liberation struggle not only in Kwara State, but also
across the country.
In numerous releases by Kwara Must Change, Hamzat had maintained that
the group has only one mission between 2015 to 2019 and it is to break
the culture of silence imposed on Kwarans by the Saraki dynasty.
Hamzat is convinced that if they are able to get all kwarans talking
about how they truly feel about the situation in Kwara in defiance to
the culture of silence, the liberation will naturally take care of
itself long before any election and the group provided a platform for
Between June 2015 to August 2017, Kwara Must Change released
approximately 150 statements, countering government propaganda at all
levels and creating new discuss. The group basically became the pace
setters that set the agenda for discuss in the state, leaving the
state government and its political associates always reacting.
Within this period, other counter narrative radio programs by
opposition political parties, particularly one anchored by Chief
Iyiola Akogun had also became popular and it complemented the efforts
of the group in sensitizing the people.
Having successfully established itself as a major force in the state,
Kwara Must Change in June 2017 announced its decision to recall the
senate president, Bukola Saraki from the senate over what it described
as bad leadership and misrepresentation. Analysts have maintained
that, the bold move by Kwara Must Change in championing the attempted
recall of the senate president is the singular master-stroke that kept
the fire burning and illuminated the kwara liberation struggle.
The recall of Bukola Saraki as announced by Kwara Must Change was
earlier dismissed by the Saraki dynasty and described as empty noise
from none existing entity, but after seeing how positively people
received the news, they became jittery and apprehensive, leading to
issuing threat, blackmail and false propaganda against the group.
However, despite the numerous threats of violence and blackmail to the
leadership of the group, Kwara Must Change insisted that the recall
shall proceed and it went ahead to write the Independent National
Electoral Commission (INEC) to that effect. Later on, the recall
exercise was aborted after INEC failed to supply the group list of
registered voters in Kwara central senatorial district. But despite
suspending the recall exercise in August 1st 2017, Kwara Must Change
continued its advocacy and local mobilization across the state,
building on its popularity and visibility.
More than ever before, the group’s presence at the grassroots level
became more visible and its media activities gradually expanded from
social media to conventional media. It grew to a point that hardly
would you visit any part of Kwara State without a visible presence of
Kwara Must Change and this is why they are being referred to as
soldiers of Kwara political freedom. The group also played a major
role during the 2017 local government election which exposed the
declining unpopularity of the Saraki dynasty.
In March 2018, leader of the group, Abdulraza Hamzat was reportedly
declared wanted by the Kwara State government and he was invited by
the Department of State Security (DSS).
In the Saaraki dynasty, Kwara Must Change is being referred to as a
digital terrorist organization and this is understandable because its
online engagement has made it impossible for the Kwara state
government to get a pass for any act of irresponsibility.
Government media team on a regular basis discusses how to respond to
the groups growing critical reviews and as a matter of fact, the mere
mention of the name Kwara Must Change or Abdulrazaq Hamzat in
government circle often sends fear into their spines.
Despite not having any known sponsorship, the group continues to grow
in scope and coverage and repeated attempt to buy them over didn’t
yield any result. This led to accusation of them being sponsored by
kwara opposition. The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki particularly
accused them of being agent of All Progressive Congress (APC) national
leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Minsiter of Information and Culture, Alh
However, the convener of the group, Abdulrazaq Hamzat insisted that
the group is a self-sustaining pro-democracy group with no link
whatsoever with the Jagaban or any politician in the state at the
time. Although, Hamzat said he has a great respect for Bola Tinubu’s
democratic credentials, notwithstanding, he said he has no connection
with the APC national leader, but he hopes to meet him later in the
After Bukola Saraki left APC to PDP in 2018, the political wing of
Kwara Must Change teamed up with other opposition political leaders
who joined APC to form a united front against the Saraki dynasty
leading to the birth of #Otoge revolution.
The political structures of Kwara Must Change in the 16 local
government also became an asset for the otoge revolution and the
group’s massive and ever active online platforms also became a useful
tool for propaganda and information dissemination.
During the Kwara Bye-election in November 2018 in which the APC
claimed its first major victory, Kwara Must Change played a leading
role to make this happen and it was not surprising that shortly after
that election, precisely in December 2018, another sponsored
publication emerge online, with the title ‘’ Abdulrazaq Hamzat:
Tinubu’s agent in Kwara’’.
Prior to the bye-election, Kwara Must Change and 72 other youth led
groups in the state had formed Kwara Rescue Alliance (KRA) with the
aim of unseating the Saraki dynasty in 2019 and the victory of APC in
the bye-election was just the beginning.
In a release by Kwara Must Change in February 2019, the group had
confidently declared that PDP will not win a single seat in Kwara
State in the election and even though most people didn’t believe the
prediction, the APC went ahead to clear all 3 senatorial seats, 6
Federal House of Representative seats, the governorship and the entire
24 state house of Assembly. It can therefore be said that the
liberation of Kwara State from the grip of Saraki dynasty came from
political mobilization and master propaganda of the Kwara Must Change.
As the new era of freedom begins in Kwara, let all beneficiaries of
the resolve of the people of Kwara work to justify the mandate given
to them by the people.